My Grey Earth Day


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed. – Mahatma Gandhi

So today is Earth Day, which means that it’s still only April.  Around here, we are not yet doing much actual gardening, it’s mostly clean up and preparation.  Not always the most glamorous of yard and garden jobs, but some how, when you can look out at your some what tidy little kingdom, it seems rewarding.  After this winter, there is much to do – the extremely long cold spells and extra frigid winds and layers of snow took their toll on a number of local plants.  It will be a few more weeks, maybe months, before we know the extent of the damage, we’re waiting and watching.  All of our rhubarb is sprouting, the onions seem to have survived, chives are sprouting, hops are already invasive…so far so good.

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the “grey areas” in life.  Seems fitting to think about them on Earth Day too.  I call “grey areas” things that don’t have a definitive outcome or answer.  That in itself seems pretty cut and dry, but in reality, it’s not.  So many things that we have strong opinions about have a lot of grey.

Recently one of my SILs had to turn over her dog to the family that owned it originally.  The dog has been in my SIL’s care for around 2 years.  When she found it she took it to the vet, had it’s injuries mended (yes, he was injured) and tried to locate the owners.  Since then , this dog has been her sidekick and companion through a rough patch in her life.  Then, out of the blue, a family claims him.  The dog seems to know them, and she returns him to what some would call the rightful owners.  For me this is a very grey problem.  Some people think it’s wonderful, a family was reunited with their long lost pet.   However, my SIL is now mourning the loss of her dog, just as that family did when they originally lost him.  One person(s) happy ending isn’t always the only ending to the story.  And pet rescue/adoption is not the only area in which the story can have 2 distinctly different endings – human adoption, medical transplants, home purchases, etc.  There is a lot of grey in daily life.

Another grey area that’s been bugging me lately is the whole plastic scene.  We’re supposed to eliminate plastic from our lives.  I get that, and I also understand that they are full of hormone disrupting chemicals and can leach into all sorts of things.  Here’s my latest dilemma,  you can’t just get rid of plastic.  Once it’s made, it’s a done deal.  (To find out about how plastic does or doesn’t decompose, click here.)  Sure you can recycle it – into more plastic.  I actually feel guilty giving the stuff away, because then it just becomes someone else’s problem.  I know I need to limit my new plastic purchases, and I do my best to do that,  but I can get overwhelmed as a consumer trying to avoid it.  Sure lists on how to help avoid plastics abound, but, until the manufactures/packaging companies understand the desire of consumers like me and the need to find alternatives, I feel like avoiding plastic can become an all consuming practice that will only cause other green areas and habits in my life to suffer.  If you never really thought about it before, and don’t know where to start, Mother Earth Living just published an article – The Dangers of Plastics, 25 Ways to Eliminate Plastics in Your Home.  It’s a good place to start.

Often the grey areas in my life are areas in which I’m having a hard time seeing how my efforts and beliefs are working within the framework that has been established by society.  Sometimes these are areas in which my beliefs (and disbelief) are based upon my location.  Take water conservation for example.  I know we need it, I know clean water is not really as renewable a resource as some would have us believe, but when you live in a damp climate where the excess of water causes more damage than the lack thereof, the conflict between conservation and getting rid of excess can create a grey area.   I have a rain barrel, and we keep it full.  I know that it helps with runoff in our overtaxed sewer system, but it rains so often, I often forget to even use it!  (However, this year, I’m going to try and remember to water my plants more regularly.)

Despite the occasional grey area,  I keep trying to lighten my footprint.  Why?  I don’t believe we were given this planet to wantonly destroy it and I don’t want to be the reason future generations struggle with daily necessities like clean water, good food, and energy for things like refrigeration/sanitation and heating homes in winter.  I may not be an American Indian but I can’t argue with the innate wisdom of the Great Law of the Iroquois:

In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation…


Happy Earth Day!  Hope yours isn’t full of too much grey.